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What is a Fragrance Oil versus an Essential oil?

by Penny Keay

We are often asked if we have different types of oils. Many time folks that inquire don’t understand that there are different types of Scenting oils.

Essential oils come strictly from plants. They will have a Common name and a Botanical name. Such as Lavender (common name) – Lavendula angustifolia (botanical name).

The essential oil is actually produced in specialized cells in the plant. The essential oil is extracted from the plant using a few different methods.

The most common method is steam distillation. Steam is forced though the botanical parts and the essential oil is distilled off.

Hydro distillation is similar, only water is used to give the plants a so called ‘hot water bath’ – the essential oils still are distilled via steam, but only after the fact that the plant material was actually submerged in hot water.

Cold pressing the plant such as is the case in several citrus oils will produce an essential oil too.

If the essential oil is extracted by a solvent – most commonly CO2 (carbon dioxide) the essential oils are really a concrete – further distilling and you have an absolute.

An absolute because of the way it is processed will have more chemical constituents than a steam or hydro distilled essential oil. Hence the reason absolutes are so much more expensive.

The process to extract the essential oil is more time consuming and costly to extract the oil as is the case of obtaining a concrete or absolute.

For several plants this is the ONLY way to obtain the essential oil. As you know some plants produce very little essential oil and the method used to make concretes and absolutes is the only way to capture and secure the little bits of essential oils that are produced.

Fragrance oils on the other hand are not made by nature. They are made by man in a laboratory. They will have names like Pumpkin Pie, Vanilla Cookies, Strawberries and cream, Fresh car, Baby powder and on and on.

Fragrance oils often times contain petroleum by products and scents made in the laboratory using various chemicals that when combined can produce – similar smells to common scents ie. strawberries or baked bread.

Fragrance oils can be made using essential oils or other aromatic extracts as PART of the ingredients. Usually, but not always, the amount of 'naturally obtained scenting' is only a small componant of the fragrance oils composition.

Fragrance oils are usually less expensive to make. They also have 'fixatives' that will help their scenting capabilities to last for several days versus several hours for pure essential oil.

Essential oils can be very costly to distill as there are so many variables when it comes to the amount available in each plant, harvest, etc.

When you are able to get a blend of fragrance oil mixed with essential oils you have a product with extended scenting, especially for use in making potpourri's, soaps, candles or scenting any variety of product including shampoos, conditioners and lotions.

Unfortunately, for most fragrance oil blends - unless they have a large portion of essential oils may not have many health benefits.

Essential oils can provide health benefits too numerous to mention here. Fragrance oils most likely won't.

Perfumes by the way, can be made using just essential oils but they won’t linger on the skin for long. So almost all commercially prepared perfumes will have both fragrance chemicals and essential oils blended, along with a fixative to help it to last several hours and possibly for several days.

Pure and natural essential oil based perfumes typically only last 2-3 hours at most.

Essential oils blends are the best choice for over all health reasons.

Fragrance Oils have their place too in the world of scenting and aromatherapy.

Just know they won't bring about a health result when you have a cold or other upper respiratory ailment, nor can they help with a skin rash.

However, they may bring about an emotional result to lift your spirits and change you mentally and spiritually.

Smelling a Fragrance oil that reminds you of Apple or Pumpkin pie, fresh laundry or fresh air - something essential oils by themselves cannot replicate, may trigger memories of wonderful times in the past or maybe even trigger new ones in the future!

The fondist memory I have of my grandmother is the smell and flavor of those "Circus Peanut" candies. The banana smell is easily triggered in my mind and gives me wonderful memories of my long passed grandmother. The scent of the banana flavoring is all a man-made flavor-scent. Yet, it triggers a happy time in my childhood.

Simply choose the right type of scenting that gives you the most pleasure or results you need. Enjoy the scents you want to smell.

If you need health results from more than just a certain 'smell' you'll need to choose essential oils.

Essential oils do have a tendency to have more of a medicinal smell especially when it comes to being used for health concerns.

This is not necessarily a bad thing.

Remember - enjoy all forms of scenting whether it is from fragrance oils or essential oils.

We do suggest you try to find fragrance oils (Like the ones Birch Hill Happenings Aromatherapy, LLC offers) that do use a lot of essential oils and natural based plant extracts rather than those that contain all man-made materials.

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© 2016 Penny Keay All rights reserved Worldwide.
Please do not use my information without my permission.

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